Good Friday is God’s way of drawing us closer to God’s self. This being the case, I am not sure I want that. Getting closer to God means I get drawn closer to the cross. This means I have to witness his suffering and death and realize my role in it. It means I must accept my own cross and bear its burden for God’s purposes. The way to the cross is difficult. I am not sure I want it. As I contemplate this, I think of a picture of my sister. She is maybe 1 or 2 and my father is holding her hand and helping her to pick up her toys. She is bawling because she does not want to pick up her toys but my father, with a loving smirk on his face, is helping her to learn to be responsible even when she does not want to. He knows that this lesson will serve her well in life and wants to lovingly teach her. Our Creator God does the same for us. We are drawn to things we do not want but when we get there, we realize how much better our lives are because we learn to do the things that can be difficult or things we do not initially want to do. God holds our hands with a loving smile even when we are kicking and screaming….all the way to the cross.
(Confession: I also like the picture because my sister is crying in it…Father forgive me!)
The source of our term for the Friday before Easter, “Good Friday,” is not clear. It may be a corruption of the English phrase “God’s Friday,” according to Professor Laurence Hull Stookey in Calendar: Christ’s Time for the Church (p. 96). It is the common name for the day among English- and Dutch-speaking people. It is a day that proclaims God’s purpose of loving and redeeming the world through the cross of our Lord, Jesus Christ. It is a day that is good because God was drawing the world to God’s self in Christ. As seen in John’s gospel, particularly, God was in control. God was not making the best of a bad situation, but was working out God’s intention for the world — winning salvation for all people. We call it “good” because we look backward at the crucifixion through the lens of Easter!